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home : stillwater journal : opinions/letters to the editor May 24, 2016

7/12/2013 8:40:00 PM
Letter to the Editor

Tax Policy

On June 26, 2013 the Oklahoma Tax Commission responded to a letter from the Stillwater Watchdogs pertaining to "Third cent Tax" issues. While we watched closely the recent "Dedrickson" case against the city, it seems there was something to learn from another challenge to these issues that also went to the Oklahoma State Supreme Court back in 1980 as Arthur vs. City of Stillwater. I would like to thank Christy J Caesar, Tax Policy Analyst, for her professional response and detailed information on this subject.

A group of interested taxpayers challenged the Ordinances #1834 and #1835 on several grounds of questionable authority. However, it appears the fundamental flaw in the system was not addressed in either case even though it is openly in the documents for everyone to see. This same flaw is also in the Stillwater Utilities Authority (SUA) Public Trust Indenture.

Much of the text of these documents has to do with the "Restricted Funds" which are not to be returned to the "General Funds" account for any reason. It was a noble thought and sold to the public with this foremost in the minds of the originators and the public who voted on these issues. Let's pause and ask ourselves what is the General Fund? It is a revenue account from services rendered (fee's - utility bills) that is used for anything pertaining to the operations and maintenance of the entity it supports, in this case the SUA. Since these documents allow "operations and maintenance" as two of the authorized uses of the restricted funds, the courts said the only thing it could. It authorized what the people wanted and all reference to restricted funds became decorative but meaningless.

I don't know if this flagrant deception was intentional on the part of legal staff / council or simply stupidity and oversight on the part of the council and voting public. Meanwhile the municipal government has a feeding frenzy off the people to promote their excesses. With such a glaring inherent contradiction, are any of these documents actually legal? If they are, then none of those mentioned, including the voters, can be trusted to govern and our system has failed.

Dennis Gronquist Stillwater

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